Wednesday, November 23, 2011

More T-day Prep; sides & table arranging

Every veteran I asked about hosting (cooking) Thanksgiving dinner warned me: prepare everything you can ahead of time. I took their well weathered advice to heart and since 9 p.m. last night I have been in over the stove or the sink, chopping, sauteeing, roasting, ect. in an effort to leave only the turkey to prepare tomorrow. 
In the mean time I decided to set the table to see what we are missing, thank goodness DH's sis, Casey lives so close. We are still short a chair and a few forks but I think it looks pretty great. One day we will have everything we need but for now its nice to have it a little hodge-podge. (this is what i tell myself anyway!) 
that's a lot of gravy!
1. Turkey Gravy
The best part about doing a trial turkey is that you're able to make turkey gravy for game day ahead of time. Nothing says thanksgiving like a 1/2 gallon of homemade turkey gravy!
2. Spiced Cranberry Sauce
Since the brine for the turkey contains so many exotic spices, I decided to carry it over and make a cranberry sauce with a little kick too. Homemade cranberry sauce is so easy and cheap, its shocking those gelatinous cans ever became as popular as they are. Simply combine fresh berries with honey, brown sugar, orange peel, cinnamon sticks and whole cloves over medium heat until berries begin to burst. Done. Yum.

Between the aromas of the gravy and the cranberry sauce I was in heaven.
3. Lemon Barley Shitake Stuffing
This is not your traditional bread stuffing. In fact it is not even technically a stuffing but rather a dressing because it is not stuffed into the bird. Rather, it is a delicious pearl barley dish spiked with roast hazelnuts and shitake mushrooms. I made this dish 2 years ago when we celebrated Thanksgiving in Forestville and it's become a regular ever since. Like turkey, the mushrooms pair perfectly with Pinots so there's no debate about serving it!
4. Roast Winter Veggies
I swear I had a vision with this dish...I was going to carefully select a medley of winter veggies at the Farmers Market this past Sunday but when we arrived, the rain began to downpour. I quickly grabbed whatever I could; a bunch of beets here, a handful of squash there, some pretty rainbow carrots over there, and I was off to search for a dry haven. As a result, its not the most precious of my side dishes but it'll do. I figure roast squash, beets and rainbow carrots never had many complaints, right? that leaves only the jalapeno cornbread muffins to make tomorrow. Oh, and the turkey! But you know there was no forgetting about that 20# fowl in the room!

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